What you need to know
- Google is introducing a new update for Android TV that brings it closer to Google TV.
- The updated UI introduces a Discover tab and updated home screen.
- Google still hopes to update Android TV sets with the new Google TV experience in the future.
While companies prepare to launch the first TV sets with Google TV preinstalled, the message around which Android TV devices will receive the update has been a mixed bag. TCL and Sony are currently the only TV manufacturers planning to introduce Google TV sets this year, but neither has exactly committed to bringing the new experience to older models. Google has decided to take matters into its own hands and is introducing an update for Android TV that can only be described as a half-step towards Google TV.
The new update overhauls the home screen so that it more closely resembles Google TV. Gone is the large, sectioned-off side navigation menu. In its place is a clean, tabbed home screen with labeled rows for apps and content. The Apps tab is a dedicated space for all of your apps, in case you have trouble finding a particular app on the Home tab. The new Discover tab is similar to the For You tab in Google TV and functions as a way for users to easily gain access to personalized recommendations for new content.
In addition to the Chromecast with Google TV, Google TV will be coming to select TCL and Sony TV sets later this year. Over time, all new retail devices on the Android TV OS will have the Google TV experience. Until then, we are bringing new features, like the Discover tab, to current Android TV devices to help people discover new shows and movies to watch.
While the new UI is a welcome overhaul for the OS, the company says that bringing the new Google TV experience to Android TV devices is still "the priority." TCL stated that it was still determining whether or not it was going to bring the experience to its older TVs, and instead focusing on the Android 11 update. Sony was a little less forthcoming about its plans to update its Android TV sets with the new experience.
Updating the Android TV UI is a great decision on Google's part, as it effectively gives older TV models new life since no one knows whether or not they will actually get the Google TV interface. Not to mention that not many people are willing or able to put money down towards a brand new 2021 model TV, given the impact of the pandemic.
The new Android TV update will roll out to users in Australia, Canada, Germany, and France starting today. More countries will receive the update in the following weeks.
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